New 15% tariffs on a wide range of consumer goods from China took effect at the beginning of September and are scheduled to be expanded to additional goods
Imports at the US major retail container ports are expected to hit their highest level of the year again next month just before more tariffs take effect in December, according to the Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
New 15% tariffs on a wide range of consumer goods from China took effect at the beginning of September and are scheduled to be expanded to additional goods on December 15 – covering a total of about $300 billion in imports. In addition, 25% tariffs on $250 billion worth of imports already imposed over the past year are scheduled to increase to 30% on October 15.
US ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.97 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in August, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 0.2% from July and up 3.9% year-over-year, and was the second-highest number of containers imported during any month of the year after last October’s record of 2 million. A TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.
Numbers dipped in September as new tariffs took effect, coming in at an estimated 1.9 million TEU, up 1.6% year-over-year. October is forecast at 1.93 million, down 5.1% from last year’s record volume. November is forecast at 1.97 million TEU, which would be up 8.9% year-over-year and tie August as the second-highest number of containers in a single month. But imports will fall to 1.78 million TEU in December, down 9.3% year-over-year. The expected drop from November will come as December’s tariffs take effect, but the month historically sees a falloff in imports because most holiday merchandise has already arrived by that point.
The first half of 2019 totaled 10.5 million TEU, up 2.1% over the first half of 2018, and 2019 is expected to see a new record of 22 million TEU. That would be up 1.2% from last year’s previous record of 21.8 million TEU.
January 2020 is forecast at 1.86 million TEU, down 1.9% from January 2019. February – traditionally the slowest month of the year because of Lunar New Year factory shutdowns in Asia – is forecast at 1.59 million TEU, down 1.8% from a year ago.